Lumen5 markets itself as a tool that turns blog posts into social promos. While the process isn’t perfect, and you’ll likely have to do some tinkering to get your blog content looking just the way you want it, the rest of the video creation process is a cinch. Merely refine some copy that teases your blog post; drag and drop some gifs, screengrabs, or video clips; add some music; and your engaging social video will be ripe for Facebook and Twitter.
Other measures of performance include startup time and simple stability. Again, video editing is a taxing activity for any computer, involving many components. In the past, video editing programs took longer than most other apps to start up, and unexpected shutdowns were unfortunately common, even in top apps from top developers such as Adobe and Apple. The stability situation has greatly improved, but the complexity of the process, which increases as more powerful effects are added, means crashes will likely never be fully eliminated, and they often raise their ugly heads after a program update, as I found with the latest version of Pinnacle Studio.
Windows Movie Maker is free video editing software available on virtually every PC. Developed by Microsoft as part of the standard program suite, it was included in Windows XP and, more recently, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Even though it is not supported for Windows 10, you can still download Windows Movie Maker and install it on this newest operating system, as well. But should you really do that? You can try a powerful alternative like Movavi Video Editor Plus that gives you access to a wider range of tools and is also available to Mac users.
You’ll find the familiar timeline/storyboard workflow, along with other basic tools such as titles and credits, effects and transitions, and a chroma-key (green screen). It also has some, but not all, of the advanced tools you need to make an outstanding video. You’ll get a video stabilizer to smooth out shaky footage, 4K compatibility for footage from the newest cameras, 3D editing, motion tracking and more. These are all great tools, and it’s a great bang for your buck. But there are some significant trade-offs. For example, there are no themes or templates. So, you’ll need to build every project from scratch – not very appealing to beginners. It also lacks an automatic video creator and slideshow creator, which are also great for novices. This program lacks multi-cam and 360-degree editing features that you would find on more expensive programs. If you want the newest, greatest effects and tools, this is not the program for you. In addition, the program’s interface is in bad need of a face-lift, and has been for years. It’s kind of hard to get around, and it will require working through a few projects before you can use it effectively.
Support for 4K video source content has become pretty standard in video editing software, but the support varies among the products. For example, some but not all of the applications can import Sony XAVC and XAVC-S formats, which are used by Sony's popular DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, camcorders, and professional video cameras. The same holds true for the H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. Most of the applications here now can import and export HEVC, though there are still a few holdouts.
However, it doesn’t have all the features and tools we look for in DVD makers, though it has enough to fit the needs of a novice. Before you can burn a DVD, you need to transform your raw footage into a compelling narrative. As such, this program’s video editing tools are its main selling points. It has a standard timeline/storyboard workflow – you compose the broad strokes of your video in the storyboard and fine-tune it in the timeline. One of the software’s biggest drawbacks is you only have eight editing tracks to build your project, and only one is dedicated to video. This limits the program’s versatility and hinders its ability to create complex projects. As a beginner, you might only need eight tracks; however, as you gain experience, it may become a frustration. In addition, the included DVD burner can’t add menus or chapter breaks.
Now back to the T7i, it has Canon's latest DIGIC processor inside of it, think it is up to 7 now. The auto focus system is a dual pixel AF with phase detection which is great. My old T3i didn't have phase detection, and the way that helps is that when something is out of focused, the camera can now tell which direction it needs to go. Before the camera basically had to guess and if it got less focused, it'll then go the other way. So sometimes it'll go the right direction the first time, other times it'll have to go both ways before it finds the right direction. This sometimes meant getting the subject focused took quite some time. With this new dual pixel with phase detection, it not only knows which way to go, but it also locks into focus much quicker than before. Phase detection has been around for a few years, but the dual pixel CMOS AF is actually new, even to the pro-grade cameras, and it made its way to this prosumer grade camera which is really nice.
We also spoke with Richard Dutcher, an independent filmmaker and director of eight feature films including “Brigham City,” “Falling," "God's Army” and “Evil Angel.” He told us that the time you spend learning a new program is at a premium. “I like things that are intuitive and with the fastest learning curve. The less time spent becoming familiar and proficient the better. The sooner I can get to work and putting the film together - that’s the most important thing to me.”
The Express Projects module offers a library of preprogrammed video templates to choose from. PowerDirector walks you through sorting your footage, choosing the best shots for your video and letting you experiment with where to place footage in the template. This is important for two reasons: First, it allows beginner and novice users the opportunity to complete a project without being intimidated by the complexity of the software; second, it does so in a way that teaches you to use the tools in the Full Feature Editor, making the jump that much easier.
One thing that I didn’t mention before was that the Rear LCD Screen is also a touch screen. Now this might seem like a big deal but it really does make using the camera a breeze. Rather than having to use the dial on the side here to change your settings, you can simply use your finger to quick change what you want. It’s very similar to using your phone and it’s also very responsive. Sure it might seem like a beginners feature, but I’ve found myself using it a lot to move quickly though the menus. Not only, now that the Canon T7i has it’s new dual pixel autofocus system, you can simply touch on the screen where you want it to focus and it will quickly and cinematically come into to focus. It’s great.
Then, along comes the EOS M5 and M6. I was reluctant to take the plunge due to slow-focusing issues I'd read about. I wanted the smallest possible camera but very high quality. Then, I read that the M6 has a nearly identical APS-C sensor to the new 80D - which has even better dynamic range than my 7D Mii. Then, I thought "but it doesn't have a viewfinder." Well, heck, I take photos all the time with my phone. So, I ordered the M6 with the 15-45 kit lens. I took many test photos. The camera is very easy to work with and I was pleased with the results. Compared to my previous Canon glass, M-lenses are tiny, but they're sharp. Plus, any small faults can be corrected in software. I don't really miss the viewfinder but there is one available to attach to the hot shoe. The controls are intuitive and the touchscreen is a joy to use. Manual exposure is easy to dial in quickly.
Shooting movies is also great now with the servo AF feature. My T3i required that I manually focused while shooting movies. With the servo AF, the camera will actually follow the moving subject adjusting the focus on the fly. I mean, your cell phone can do it and so could my point-and-shoot Canon camera, but their old DSLRs actually didn't have that feature, but now (well, since like the T5i I think) they do and it's very useful. Speaking of movie mode, I very much like that they added another step in the power switch for movie mode instead of requiring you to turn the knob all the way to the very end to get to movie mode. Now you simply flip the switch to it.
After using the camera for a couple of weeks, I ordered the M-22mm lens and the EOS lens adapter. I have a couple of older small kit lenses with longer zooms that work well on the M6. And I wanted the 22mm prime for night/low-light shots. The M lenses are so light and tiny they're super-easy to carry around. I'm leaving in a few weeks for Japan and Korea and I'm looking forward to putting this camera through its paces. Plus, it weighs only about one-fourth of my 7D with lens but is capable of similar high quality photographs.